Sunday, November 15, 2015

My Journey Towards PMP Certification

A few days before end of August, I suddenly made a decision to get a PMP certification.  I've done the study group a year before (Mar - June) so it has been a while.

When the project I was managing at that time went live, as I was mostly in the office for moral support and other admin help, I filled up my application and submitted it on the same day.  I did prepare beforehand in a spreadsheet the necessary hours I spent for each project, phase I have handled in the past few years.

In early September, I scheduled my exam (November 6) as it was in line with a planned vacation so I figured I will have enough time to prepare.

Or so I thought.

I have to admit that I was arrogant enough to try taking a mock exam (Oliver Lehmann's 175 free sample questions -- printed).  I have been a project manager for almost four years so I figured that it should count for something.  Of course, I failed miserably, garnering 58% correct answers.  

After that, I read Rita Mulcahy's book.  It definitely is a book one can depend on as it provides good explanations and not just trying to bore you to death with theoretical details.  The PMBOK, I'm sorry, is just so boring. I love to read but that was a very difficult challenge for me.  So in the time I have to prepare myself, I did not, in any instance, read the PMBOK.

They said you should read RITA at least 2 or 3 times. I didn't have the time as I was thrown in into one project or another.

Couple it with a trip to London that totally changed my schedule.

After reading Rita's book, I then moved to doing mock exams using iPhone apps.  And I had several.  A number of them were crap so I deleted them at once.

The best one I would recommend is the PMPro application.  It is not perfect.  It has a number of editing errors (which I advised them already to correct).  But based on the ones I've seen, this is quite a good one.  

Pros
  • It allows you to do a mock PMP, a full PMP or test by Knowledge group
  • It saves results
  • You can save ongoing exam and come back to it again (there is a bug with the full PMP as it saves once but goes back to the first saved number every time)
  • The tests are quite good especially on understanding the formulas.  I am telling you, the easiest part of the PMP exam for me were when I had to do calculations.  I aced that. And all because of this app
  • The format of the exams were close to the actual PMP exam I took -- so I was not really surprised
  • There is in most cases, an accompanying explanation for the answers.  So this helped me to further understand and not just memorise things

Cons
  • The full exam is a bit pricey at I think around $12++ but if i can spend so much more on my games, I think this is something I should shell out money for 
  • Lots of editing errors. Some of the sentences are missing first letters
  • Some of the questions overflow to the answers
  • Some of the questions have no question and you have to deduce the answer based on the options
It does have a number of bugs but it definitely was a very useful tool for understanding the concepts and getting to know the formulas and gauging how ready you are.

Similar questions also came in the PMP test I took so it was a bonus.

Other exams I took include the 75 question from an online test by Oliver Lehmann and the PMP First exam (printed).   But other than that, the main one I relied on was PMPro.  

I did try some of the exams from PMPocketFree ($3+ for one full exam).  However, it is all theory, not much of calculations like PMPro, no explanation and you cannot save exams for later.  But there are some questions there that also helped me so I give it a small credit. 

So, by now I think you would have guessed that I passed my exam.   

I would recommend reading Rita (although I saw Head First also and it looked like a good book too) several times!  And really understand, not just memorise. 

Also, take a lot of practice exams!  It really is key to your success in getting PMP certified.

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